Each season’s NHL trade deadline brings its own je ne sais quoi; its own certain something. And this year has been no different.
Deadline trends this year have been dictated, and complicated, by an extremely tight Eastern Conference and an unpredictable wild card race on both coasts. Coupled with the high volume of quality pending free agents, high asking prices,
and an impending expansion draft, this season’s deadline has been a roller coaster already.
In earnest, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Carolina Hurricanes kicked things off last Thursday but it’s been the last 48 hours that general managers have really begun to make moves. Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings; Martin Hanzal to the Minnesota Wild; Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs; Alex Burrows to the Ottawa Senators; Kevin Shattenkirk to the Washington Capitals; many of the League’s top pending free agents have already been dealt.
But there are still a lot of big names out there, and more than one contender who needs to bulk up their roster before the big show.
So welcome to the hot stove, pull up a seat, from our Haus to yours this is The Game Haus’ Contenders in Need of a Deadline Deal.
NEW YORK RANGERS
The New York Rangers have been awfully quiet thus far but don’t mistake their patience for disinterest. The Rangers boast over $10-million-dollars in deadline cap space, a number of draft picks, and plenty of young talent to attract potential trade partners.
The Rangers have been rumored to be looking at Brendan Smith. The Detroit Red Wing would add grit and bringing depth on the left side of the lineup.
The Rangers were also rumored to have been in the market for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. But, in what can only be described as a cruel twist of fate, the Washington Capitals appear to have acquired the coveted young defensman first. If all goes well for Alex Ovechkin and the President’s Trophy front runners, Shattenkirk will suit up tonight in New York against the Rangers.
Regardless, expect the Rangers to make a move or two before the deadline in order to improve their playoff chances.
As if not to be outdone by his offseason wheelin’ and dealin’, Montreal Canadiens’ general manager Marc Bergevin went ahead and brought Claude Julien back to the Bell Centre. Though this move has the potential to overshadow any other made by Bergevin this season it’s not likely to be his last.
The Canadiens were in talks to acquire Martin Hanzal, but Arizona Coyotes’ general manager John Chayka chose to deal with Minnesota instead. In need of a defenseman to help Montreal’s big blue liners with the big minutes they’ve been carrying, Bergevin swapped Greg Pateryn and a fourth for Dallas Stars defenseman Jordie Benn.
Still, the Habs will need more than just a new coach and another mediocre defenseman if they have any hopes of advancing very far in the playoffs. Montreal desperately needs depth down the middle.
Despite the fact that Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic has been very hard on his price point for star center Matt Duchene, the rumors around his being dealt have not slowed down. If Duchene’s price remains too high perhaps Bergevin might consider looking elsewhere for a new forward as the March 1 deadline fast approaches.
The Tampa Bay Lighting are flush with forwards pending restricted free agency. While teams like Detroit and Arizona posses similarly attractive assets.
The defending Stanley Cup Champions have zero projected cap space, so they are looking strictly for a rental player only. That is, of course, unless they can unload a contract or two in the process.
Though he has a no trade clause in place, Marc-Andre Fleury represents roughly $6-million-dollars of cap space. Cap space which the Pittsburgh Penguins could otherwise use to their advantage. Though Penguins’ general manager Jim Rutherford has expressed his wish to keep Fleury and Matt Murray both, Fleury has recently voiced that he would rather be playing; opening the door for speculation once again.
But that’s the least of Rutherford’s worries at the moment.
What Pittsburgh lacks is a healthy defense. With Pittsburgh’s cap in mind, there are plenty of less expensive options on the open market. And Buffalo, Detroit, Philadelphia, and of course St. Louis, have a wide range of pending free agent defensemen for sale.
In addition to Pittsburgh’s defensive woes, the Penguins have experienced injury issues all year on the front end as well. That being said, don’t be surprised if Rutherford adds some depth to the bottom six.
“From Our Haus to Yours”
*all Salary Cap information courtesy of CapFriendly.com